Thursday, March 31, 2011

Red or Green

Esteemed blogger Carol Anne of Five O'Clock Somewhere is running one of those group hug writing challenge thingies. She want us to write about food. Apparently she teaches English at a community college and is currently torturing delighting her students by offering them a series of essay titles on that topic. One of the more cryptic essay titles on Carol Anne's list of foodie topics is "Red or Green? Explain."

Huh? Can she read my mind? How could she possibly know that "Red or Green?" is the food related question that I most frequently have to address, at least during the sailing season. Every Tuesday night in the summer it is the question of the moment.

Let me explain. Last summer some of my most enjoyable and memorable sailing experiences were doing some informal racing with a group of like-minded friends in Bristol Harbor on Tuesday evenings. I wrote about some of those evenings in posts such as The Rabbit and the Old Dog and A Man with a Goat and a Stick and a Cessna.

As the sun sets and the wind dies we sail back to the beach, pack up our boats on to our trailers, change into our street clothes, and then ask the question, "Red or Green?" We have a decision to make. Where are we going for the most important part of the evening's fun, the après-sail?

Actually we don't pose the question in quite those terms, "Red or Green?" But that's what we mean. There are several excellent drinking and eating establishments within walking distance of the launch area but we only consider the best two...

Red? Red is Redlefsen's a small town European style restaurant which draws the best from several countries with German food being the primary focus...

... or Green? Green is of course the color of Ireland and represents Aidan's Pub, the quintessential Irish pub just down the street from Redlefsen's.

It's a tough choice.

Redlefsen's has an excellent selection of European, mainly German beers on tap. Such choices. Should I go for the Ayinger Celebrator or the Weihenstephan Hefeweissbier this week? Or the Warsteiner Dunkel? Mmmm. Often it's the Pilsner Urquell that is the choice of the majority of our crowd, You just can't go wrong with that.

On the other hand Aidan's has Guinness (of course) and a vast range of mainly American beers on draft. Vermont's Long Trail Ale tends to be my après-sail beer of choice here.

Red or green? The food is a factor too.

The main dinner entrees at Redlefsens tend to be a bit too large and fancy for an après-sail snack, though I have been known to go for the Grilled Wurst Platter. But most of the sailors are satisfied with a pasta or a hamburger. The Fettucine a la Bolognese is always a favorite with me.

Aidan's on the other hand has the traditional pub fare. When Tillerwoman and I go there, often in the winter, for lunch I will usually go for something hearty and filling such as bangers and mash, or fish and chips. Probably nostalgic for the food of my childhood. But on a warm summer's evening sitting on one of Aidan's outside decks, nothing seems more appropriate than a burger with melted blue cheese dripping down the sides. Yum.

Red or Green? The two establishments have very different ambiences. Somewhat formal European style restaurant with eclectic decorations. Or out and out Irish pub atmosphere.

Red or Green? I think we pay a bit more each for an evening in the Red than we do in the Green. The kids (i.e. under 40's) in our group tend to favor Aidan's, perhaps for that reason. On the other hand the elder statesman of our fleet and his wife (who does sterling service for us every week as our trolley dolly) do prefer Redlefsen's. I think they even have frequent flier cards for Redlefsen's.

And so that's how we decide between Red and Green. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, so much worth seeing after an evening of Laser sailing than your launching trolley neatly lined up with everyone else's at just the point on the beach that the tide has currently reached. Our trolley dolly is a gem. And if she prefers Red that's fine with us.

But on the nights she's not there we go Green.

Now how did Carol Anne know about Redlefsen's and Aidan's?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Three Laser Classes?

I've had a suspicion for some time that something weird was going on with the Laser builders and trademark owners. There was a mysterious ad on Scuttlebutt Europe last summer from an outfit called Global Sailing "looking for enthusiastic and well established marine dealers to become national or multi national distributors in the European region for the Bruce Kirby designed Olympic Sailing Dinghy." They were obviously talking about the Laser, and I thought there already was a Laser builder for Europe, Laser Performance Europe. What was that all about? There were some other cryptic comments on forums and in meeting minutes that made me suspect something was afoot too.

Now it's all out in the open. The Laser International Class announced today a proposed class rule change to the Fundamental Rule. That's really serious. The Fundamental Rule basically says a Laser is a Laser and you can't mess with it. Apparently there's a dispute as to who really has the rights to build Lasers for most of the world and there's a real danger that the Laser Class may split three ways and even lose its Olympic status.

Holey moley! It's a good thing this news wasn't announced on Friday (April 1) else nobody would believe it.

The current class rules currently say that a builder of legal Lasers must have "a building agreement from Bruce Kirby or Bruce Kirby Inc." (Bruce Kirby is the original designer of the Laser.) According to the International Laser Class Association (ILCA) website "a dispute has arisen between parties who claim to be representing Kirby’s interests: a New Zealand company called Global Sailing; and Laser Performance Europe (LPE), one of the manufacturers, which holds the Laser trademark rights for Europe, South America, Africa and Asia... The dispute centers on whether a valid 'design rights holder' agreement exists with LPE... Each of the parties to the conflict has threatened ILCA in various ways – Global Sailing has said it may form a new class association for a 'Kirby Sailboat.' LPE informed the ILCA that it intends to form its own 'Laser' class. We may therefore end up with three different classes and may lose the Olympic status."

My head is spinning.

The announcement goes on to say that because of this conflict "there may not be a sufficient quantity of new Laser boats compliant with the ILCA Class Rules available in Europe and other countries in 2011 and beyond to satisfy the demand of its current and future ILCA members."

OMG. This is serious.

The class proposes fixing the problem by changing the definition of what constitutes a legal Laser builder, and is asking class members to vote to approve the change.

This is complicated. The announcement leaves a lot of questions unanswered, Not least, who is Global Sailing and how did they come to be "representing Kirby's interests"? The whole proposal needs more explanation and consideration. This could get messy.

Update 4 April
Since I first published this post, some of the background to this issue has been made public, although there is still much unknown and a spirited debate about the advisability and impact of the proposed rule change continues in various forums.
For more up to date information check out...
this thread on the Laser Forum and
this interview with Bruce Kirby on Sail World.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bad Mommies

Those Mommy Boats are behaving badly... again!

The Rolex Miami Olympic Classes Regatta (RMOCR) is a serious regatta. According to Gary Jobson's article in the latest issue of Sailing World, the 2011 RMOCR saw more than 700 Olympic aspirants from 53 countries. There's a lot on the line for these sailors... funding, sponsorship, qualification for other major regattas, a step on the way to earning an Olympic berth in 2012. So it's crucial that the regatta is run smoothly.

Jobson's Sailing World article reviews a number of ways in which the organizers of RMOCR strove for a level of excellence in running the regatta: everything from using smart phones to speed up the processing of results... to creating buzz with "pinnies." (Buy the magazine and check it out yourself if you don't know how to create buzz with pinnies.)

But Gary does have one suggestion for how to make RMOCR even better. From his perch 300 feet above the race course he did spot one problem. Those dratted Mommy Boats were creating havoc yet again. After the start, a group of Mommy Boat drivers (Jobson diplomatically calls them coaches) would take off to one side of the course and create waves that would "dramatically affect" the boats on that side of the course. Gary was bothered seeing how the waves from the bad Mommy Boats would cause the racing sailboats to lose distance and speed as they pitched through the waves.

I thought I would check out the Sailing Instructions (SIs) for RMOCR to see if the organizers had done anything to prevent this totally unfair and unnecessary interference with racing by these so-called coaches. Indeed they had.

The RMOCRSIs have a whole section, section 16, devoted to an attempt to police the behavior of Mommy Boats. It has 8 sub-sections and sub-section 16.3 has 6 sub-sub-sections. Wow! It covers everything from where Mommy Boats are not allowed to go... to what will happen if they are naughty and don't follow these rules. RMOCRSI 16.4 requires that Mommy Boats "that are motoring above 5 knots shall remain at least 150 metres from any boat racing." And RMOCRSI 16.7 says that the International Jury "may direct the organizing authority to revoke privileges from any boat or person found to be in breach of SI 16."

So they tried. But it clearly wasn't good enough. A swarm of Mommy Boats behaving badly still managed to mess up the races for all the boats on one side of the course.

How many more times must this happen before we ban this menace from our sport?

Related Posts
Mommy Boats
Ban Mommy Boats NOW
The Other Side of the Argument
One Hundred Mommy Boats
Mommies Gone Wild
A Wise Man Once Said

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Problem With New England

The problem with New England (also known to Laser aficionados by the somewhat quaint name of "District 7") is that there are way too many Laser sailors here. District 7 has more Laser class members than any other Laser district in North America. And we are all crammed together into this tiny little region in the top right-hand corner of the country. Geeze, there are 17 individual US states bigger than New England.

All these huddled masses of Laser sailors packed together in this pocket handkerchief of a district means that there are a gazillion Laser fleets in New England and, Laser sailors being the generous, gregarious folk that we are, most of these Laser fleets feel the need to organize at least one annual regatta each year so that even more Laser sailors can mill around together on the same puddle for the weekend and have lotsa fun yotting with each other and drinking with each other and screaming, "Starboard!" and "No Room! Yes, you sir! No bloody room!" at each other.

As a result there is at least one Laser regatta almost every weekend throughout the (mercifully short) New England summer which creates enormous problems for all us Laser sailors who need to find excuses not to sail in all these damn regattas. I mean, just look at the following list of District 7 Laser regattas that I already know about...

May 1 - Peter Milnes Regatta - Newport, RI

May 15 - Cedar Point YC Spring Regatta - Westport, CT

May 21-22 - Wickford Regatta - Wickford RI

June 4 - Lake Mascoma Spring Regatta - Enfield, NH
June 5 - Lake Sunapee Regatta - Lake Sunapee, NH

June 18-19 - Atlantic Coast Masters - New Bedford, MA

June 25-26 - Championship of Buzzards Bay - New Bedford, MA

July 9-10 - Newport Regatta - Newport, RI

July 29-31 - Hyannis Regatta - Hyannis, MA

August 5-7 - Buzzards Bay Regatta - New Bedford, MA

August 13-14 - Mallets Bay Boat Club Regatta - Colchester, VT

August 27 - Niantic Bay Regatta - Niantic, CT

September 10-11 - Massapoag YC Annual Regatta - Sharon, MA

September 24-25 - New England Masters - Middletown, RI

And really it's much worse than that. I haven't even listed some regattas that fall on the same days as others on the list. And I know that last year there were a bunch of regattas in Maine, at least another one in New Hampshire, and innumerable ones dotted around Massachusetts that will probably all be held again this year. I just haven't been able to find them in The Google yet.

Even so there are hardly any free weekends in the (mercifully short) New England summer. When am I going to find the time to enter some running races, learn to kayak properly (which I promise myself I will do very year round about now) and play with my grandkids? Not to mention that some of my so-called friends in New Jersey have organized a grand-sounding Centennial Regatta on the Independence Day weekend and are trying to blackmail me into going to that too by claiming that the whole shebang was my idea. There goes another "free" weekend.

I need help dear readers. I need some creative excuses not to sail in some of these regattas otherwise I will never have any other fun in the (mercifully short) New England summer. Ideas please!

If you can't some up with some good ideas I might just have to move to Montana.

Or South Dakota.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Random Tillerman

Some of you will be trying to guess the origin. Others will just relish in the discovery of such a great affordable alternative with a delicious personality. It's not sweet at all but neither does it turn your mouth inside out on the way to its perfect finish. Excellent value.

Style: Crisp, dry, somewhat tropical and very refreshing.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Fenders come in all sorts of colors: white, blue, red, gold, green... whatever takes your fancy. But perhaps the most famous Fender of all is black: Eric Clapton's Fender Stratocaster guitar, known as "Blackie."

Back in 1970, Clapton bought a bunch of 1950's vintage Stratocasters. He gave some to his friends like Pete Townshend and Steve Winwood, and from the ones that were left, he took a 1956 body, a 1957 neck, and the pickups from a third guitar, and made Blackie. From 1970 until the mid-80's, Blackie was Eric's primary stage and studio guitar. 

In 2004, Clapton sold Blackie at Christie’s in New York to raise money for the Crossroads alcohol and drug treatment centre he had founded in Antigua. Blackie sold for $959,500!

I also own a black Fender, but it's not worth as much as Blackie. And I don't sound much like Eric Clapton when I play it. But I can dream.

What's that you say? You thought this was a sailing blog? You imagined this post would be about boat fenders? Please try and keep up. There was an election around here in 2008 and my readers voted convincingly that they didn't want this blog to be about sailing any more; they wanted me to write about "whatever the hell I want." So that's what I'm doing. I like Eric Clapton. I like guitars. I like Fenders. Especially black ones.

In the interests of full disclosure, I would like to point out that this post is sponsored by, a great resource for boat fenders and more. So if you want to know more about boat fenders, fender locks, fender adjusters, fender lines, fender hangers, blue fenders, red fenders, white fenders and (my favorite) black fenders then head over to boat fenders and knock your brains out.

Boat fenders are a mystery to me.

After all, I'm a Laser sailor.

And a guitarist.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

And The Moon Rose Over An Open Field

Many native American tribes know the full moon in March as the Worm Moon, so named because as the temperature begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear. This year the Worm Moon is even more spectacular than usual with worm casts 14% larger and 30% more numerous than normal. The reason for this impressive "Supercast" is that the worms are nearer to the surface then they have been for 18 years. Wow!

Now, here's a challenge for you natural navigators out there. Can you tell from my photo of worm casts which direction is north, how many hours it will be to moon rise, how far it is to the nearest herd of bison, and what brand of lawn fertilizer I used last year? The prize for the first person who gets all the answers right will be a signed photo of the Supercast! Woo Hoo!

Friday, March 18, 2011

I'd Rather Be a Camera Than a Fish

The photos above are taken from a blog I discovered recently The World Tour which is a cruising blog about a young couple from Barcelona, Alex and Taru, who are sailing around the world on their Hallberg Rassy 352. (That's Taru in the first and third pictures.)

Regular readers of this blog will know that I'm not usually much of a fan of cruising blogs. But this one is different. I can't quite define what it is about Taru and Alex's blog that especially appeals to me, but I expect I will work it out as I continue to follow their voyage.

They are currently in Martinique and the photos of wildlife and scenery are magnificent. Hope you enjoy The World Tour too.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Mrs. Wagner's Pies

Today March 14, often written as 3/14, is Pi Day. Get it? Pi= 3.14159 etc. etc. etc. ad infinitum (literally).

Of course, being a bit of a geek I could write several hundred words about Pi. But that would probably bore all of my readers and would not help me in extending my streak (currently standing at 17) of writing posts with titles referencing Simon and Garfunkel songs.

So I will write about pie. Here is a real English delicacy. A pork pie.

I stole this photo from a blog post entitled Things I Tried Once but Never Again! The lady who writes the blog says, "There’s no earthly reason for this gastronomic monstrosity. Bits of fat and gristle covered in lard and grease." She hated it so much she included it on her list of "Things I Tried Once but Never Again" along with "Asking out boys" and "A Brazilian wax in Brazil." Kat just doesn't get pork pie. (She doesn't get Brazilian waxes in Brazil any more either.)

What? You expected a photo here of a Brazilian wax? You must be joking. This is a family blog. I told you I was a geek. This is sorbitan monostearate. It's quite waxy. It's as close as you're going to get. Let's move on.

But oops. Simon and Garfunkel didn't write about pork pies as far as I know. But they did write about Mrs. Wagner's Pies. Apparently it's what you buy just before you walk off to look for America with Kathy, and some real estate in your bag. Hmmm. Kat? Kathy? Any connection I wonder?

Now, one of the problems with having moved to America in 1989 (and I'm still looking for it too, by the way) is that many cultural references to anything before 1989 often mean nothing to me. Apparently Mrs. Wagner of Mrs Wagner's Pie fame went out of business in 1969. So I have never seen a Mrs Wagner's Pie, much less tasted one. But they were famous in their day (or so it says on the Internet.) I wonder if they were like English pork pies?

But oops again. This is supposed to be a sailing blog, and I don't think Mrs. Wagner of Mrs. Wagner's Pies was a sailor. But it's possible. She was from the Jersey shore, home of many accomplished sailing Wagners.

There is also a Wagner who sometimes paints pictures of sailboats. Arline Wagner. 

That picture at the top of the post is by her. It's called Sailing at Sunset.

I think I'll go and watch the sunset now. Happy Pi Day.

A Most Peculiar Man

My 5-year-old granddaughter Emily loves to draw. Lately she has been drawing various groups of family members.

The good thing is that each person in her drawing is unique. She is not just drawing random stick figures. She is trying to draw pictures that represent each person individually.

However, it's not all that easy yet for us mere adults to work out who is who in her pictures.

The drawing above is of me, Tillerwoman and Emily. I am the rather short person on the left. Apparently I am about half as tall as a 5-year-old. I guess it's good news that I am also married to a woman about twice as tall as me. I think.

But if you look closely you will see that Emily has given us all distinct hairstyles. She is astute enough to notice that I have hardly any hair on top of my head but two little tufts on each side.

What does this mean? Why is my hair (or lack of it) the thing she remembers most about me?
Why does Emily think I am shorter than her? Is it a recognition of my childish and playful nature? I appear to be a most peculiar man. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Where Have You Gone?

Radial sailor Jody Machio at the SailFit clinic in Clearwater, Florida this week, demonstrating the advanced Laser skill of keeping the boat on the plane while her body is totally immersed.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Rumor of his Parties and the Orgies on his Yacht!

And the rumor of his parties and the orgies on his yacht!
Oh, he surely must be happy with everything he's got.

Is anybody getting rich from blogging? Probably none of my friends. But I have noticed that some of the bloggers I follow have been doing various things to earn money from their blogs. Some are using Google AdSense. Some are earning money through referrals to Some have banner ads for "sponsors". Some carry simple one line text links as adverts.

I would be interested to know what other people's experience is with this. How is it working out for you? As a blogger are you earning enough to make it worth bothering with such options?

I would also be interested to know what readers think of this. Does it change your perception of a blog if you see it's carrying ads? Do they make you think the blogger is more serious? Or do you think ads cheapen the look of a blog?

I receive emails pretty regularly these days from people asking if I am prepared to carry various kinds of ad on my blog. I've no idea what the going rate for such ads is. I told one guy I wasn't really interested and he immediately doubled his offer! For example, what is the normal rate for a simple one line text link on a blog like mine?

I look forward to hearing from you in the comments. I'm grateful for your patronage and thank you very much.

April Come She Will

I didn't sign up for Laser frostbiting this winter. So, apart from my trip in December to the BVI, I've been a typical northern temperate zone sailor this winter, with no sailing between the New England Laser Masters in late September and...

And when?

When will I feel that it's warm enough to venture out on local waters for some solo sailing on my Laser again?

March is deceptive around here. There are some sunny days when you feel that spring has arrived. Then it changes back to some raw, rainy, windy weather for a few days, perhaps even some gloppy snow. Yesterday (what I hope will be) the last patch of snow melted from my yard. The bay looked enticing. But the water temperature is still in the 30s. Is winter really over?

April come she will
ripe and swelled with rain.

April! Yes, April come she will. Realistically, April is the earliest I usually feel like venturing out on my own on the local bays in my Laser. But even then I feel like a freak. Nobody else much around here is out boating in April as I wrote in So Where The Bloody Hell Are You? But April does bring some genuinely warm days such as the day last year I went Sailing Bristol Harbor.

May, she will stay,
Resting in my arms again.

May! Yes, May she will stay. May is when the local sailing season really wakes up. There's the Wickford Regatta that I enjoyed so much last year and where I overcame The Curse of the White Towel. Chances are there will be informal Tuesday night racing in Bristol starting some time in May too: Laser Sailing is Fun. And rumor has it that some canoe club in Brooklyn even has a Laser regatta in May.

Spring really is coming. I can smell it. Spring, when an old man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of... Laser sailing.

Bring it on.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Funky's Dilemma

Who will represent the United States in the Laser class at the Olympics in England next year?

Regular readers of this blog will recall that the 2007 Laser US Olympic Trials were held just down the road from me, at Third Beach Newport, and were eventually decided by a tie-breaker which gave the 2008 Olympics slot to Andrew Campbell over Brad Funk.

Geeze. You train hard for years, you're leading the regatta after ten races, and then you lose it on a tie-breaker! I don't know what I would do if that happened to me. Smash up my Laser with a sledgehammer? Fly off to St. Somewhere and drown my sorrows in rum? Take up butterfly collecting?

What a dilemma!

Editor's note. We apologize to readers for the title of this post. As far as is know to the editorial staff at Proper Course, nobody calls Mr. Funk by the nickname "Funky" or even characterizes him as "funky". However, Tillerman appears to be on a run of choosing titles for every post which are titles of Simon and Garfunkel songs, lines from Simon and Garfunkel songs, or bad puns on lines or titles from Simon and Garfunkel songs. It is not clear to us why Tillerman is doing this or whether he will ever cease this annoying practice, but we have been unable to persuade him to desist.

Anyway, Brad didn't give up Laser sailing or take up butterfly collecting (as far as I know.) He carried on racing his Laser at major regattas. He was 2nd in the Laser Radial Worlds in 2008, and 3rd in the Lasers at Miami OCR in 2009. He's also been doing some Moth sailing and was 3rd (and top USA sailor) at the 2010 Moth Worlds in Dubai.

Now US Sailing does its bit to support and train the US Olympic hopefuls by selecting the top contenders to be members of the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics (USSTAG). In 2010 the USSTAG Laser Sailor Team Members (USSTAGLSTM) were Kyle Rogachenko and Rob Crane. And in 2011 the USSTAGLSTM are Rob Crane and Clay Johnson.

There's another twist on this story. The US Laser Olympic spot has always in the past been decided at a single Olympic Trials Regatta held somewhere in the US. Not any more. This time around, the US Sailing Olympic Sailing Committee (USSOSC) has decided that the selection will be based on the best performer at the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta, in Weymouth/Portland, England, (SSFGRWPE) scheduled for June 5-11, 2011, and the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) Sailing World Championship, in Perth, Australia, (ISAFSWCPA) scheduled for December 3-18, 2011.

So any US Laser sailor hoping to qualify for the Olympics has to be racing regularly on the international circuit and familiarizing themselves with the locations and levels of competition at events like SSFGRWPE and ISAFSWCPA. As USSOSC Chairman (USSOSCC) Dean Brenner recently said, "The days of somebody training in a remote domestic location, winning the Trials and then medaling at the Olympic Games are long, long gone."

So who is going to win the single US Laser spot at the 2012 Olympics? The casual observer might assume that the 2012 Olympic place would probably go to one of these elite sailors anointed by US Sailing as USSTAGLSTM, Messrs. Crane, Johnson and Rogachenko.

It could be. At the recent 2011 Rolex Miami Olympic Classes Regatta (RMOCR) Clay Jonson was the top US sailor in 9th place with Rob Crane only 3 points behind him in 10th. Kyle Rogachenko was 16th.

But wait. After coming a disappointing 36th in Miami, Brad Funk went off to Mexico for nine days to train with some of the best Laser sailors in the world including Paul Goodison and Nick Thompson from England. Then he trained in Florida with Matias Del Solar from Chile for four days and showed up at the Midwinters East in Clearwater and won the regatta, handily defeating all the USSTAGLSTM hopefuls.

Woo hoo. Brad Funk is back. This is going to be interesting. I love a good comeback story.

I think I will go and watch Rocky II now.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Dappled and Drowsy and Ready to Sleep

One of my many talents is that I am able to take a nap at any time of day. It could be after lunch. It could be while watching a boring TV program. I just drop out for about 15-20 minutes and awake energized and refreshed.

For some reason, Tillerwoman has a problem with this habit. She seems to think it is a symptom of laziness, or perhaps even rudeness (to her.) I don't know why. I tell her it is a skill I have and it's not my fault that she doesn't have the aptitude to take power naps like me. Really, I don't know what her problem is. I don't take naps when we have company. At least, not very often.

Now comes news from the New York Times that napping is a technique used by elite athletes. Many basketball players in the N.B.A. take a pre-game nap. Grant Hill of the Phoenix Suns say, "It refreshes you. It gets you ready for competition." Exactly.

Baseball players do it too. Ricky Henderson was discovered taking a power snooze when he was supposed to be at a meeting. And Ken Griffey Jr. was even found asleep in the clubhouse during a game once. Bravo sir! Baseball games are soooooo long. I sometimes take a nap when I'm watching them too.

This is great news. At last, there is a way to improve sports performance by doing something I'm actually good at. Forget weight training. Forget cardio. My plan this year is to raise my Laser racing game to a whole new level by the strategic use of power naps.

I figure that at every regatta, after I have rigged my Laser, I should find a quiet corner in the yacht club and settle down for a snooze. I will rely on the harbor gun to tell me when it's time to wake up, all refreshed and full of energy, to go and launch my boat.

Then between every race, I will lie down on my Laser and take a short nap. I'm sure the other sailors will see that I am not in control of my boat and keep out of my way. The prep signal will wake me up and I will have an enormous advantage over all my fellow competitors who spent the time between races wearing themselves out sailing around and doing all those exhausting tasks like checking out the wind and the current and the start line etc. etc. etc.

Why didn't I think of this before? I don't think any of my sailing books cover this technique. Maybe after I have proved how effective it is I should write a book myself. Seven Simple Snoozing Strategies for Sailing Success.

I'm so excited I think I'll go and take a nap now.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Just Trying To Keep My Customers Satisfied

The votes are in. The readers have spoken.

And the winner is...

Hmmm. Well, it's a bit confusing.

I asked readers to select the entry they liked best in out recent Navigation group writing contest. I even tried to make it easier for you by choosing what I thought were the three best entries out of the twenty five submitted.

The final three were...

Buoy Crazy by Bonnie from Brooklyn.

The Graveyard of the Pacific by John from PDX.

A History of Navigation, In Verse by O Docker from O Dock.

The most common feedback was that all three entries were so good that we should call it a three-way tie. It was as if the voters in 2008 had said, "This is way too hard. Why don't we just let Barack Obama, John McCain and Ralph Nader share the presidency?" Kum Ba Yah!

Of those voters who did express a clear preference for one entry, then Bonnie's Buoy Crazy did receive the most votes.

So I hereby declare Bonnie the winner. However, just to show that I do actually care what my readers think, I have decided to award prizes of Tristan Gooley's book The Natural Navigator to all three finalists. So if John, O Docker and Bonnie want to email me your mailing addresses I will send out the prizes.

Thanks to everyone who participated. Great job!

Friday, March 04, 2011

Why Don't You Write Me?

At last, the Proper Course Group Writing Contest Judges Panel has selected the short list of finalists in our deadly serious and highly competitive Navigation contest, and it is time for you to vote to choose the overall winner of the grand prize, Tristan Gooley's book The Natural Navigator.

There were several excellent tales of navigational errors, lost navigators, near disasters... and the panel decided that of this group the best was

The Graveyard of the Pacific by John from PDX.

The judges were pleased to see that Mr O Docker submitted a couple of entries. Always original, always totally nuts, he did not disappoint. So also nominated for the short list is

A History of Navigation, In Verse by O Docker from O Dock.

Finally on the short list we have a blogger who has been blogging about watery bloggy stuff for even longer than me. Educational. Hilarious. Touching. Our final nominee is

Buoy Crazy by Bonnie from Brooklyn.

And now it's over to you. Please go and read all three posts in the links above and then tell me in the comments which of these worthy entries should win the grand prize. Why don't you write me? I'm hungry to hear you.Thank you again to all the writers that participated in the competition. I enjoyed all of your articles.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream

Last night I had the strangest dream...

I dreamed I was at some huge sailing club and there were crowds of men and women and we were all registering for a major Sunfish regatta, probably a Worlds or North Americans. This is strange to start with because I sold my Sunfish in 2006 and I haven't sailed a major Sunfish event since the Worlds in 2000.

For some reason the registration process involved going backwards and forwards between two places that were hundreds of yards apart. At one of these desks I couldn't make any progress because the bench I wanted to sit on was full of people and nobody would move to let me sit down. At the other place I put my registration form down on the desk and it fell in a puddle and it got wet so I couldn't write on it.

It was taking hours to register as I went back and forwards with my wet form. I was anxious because I hadn't checked out my boat yet and I was almost certain there was something on it that needed repairing but I didn't know what and it seemed I wouldn't have a chance to repair it before racing started.

At one of the registration tables I found a collage of photos of all the competitors but I hadn't brought a photo and I wasn't in the collage. The only person I recognized in the collage was a woman whom I have never met. Her sail number was LIU which makes no sense because it should have been numeric.

There was some mysterious grey-haired distinguished-looking man hovering in the background who seemed to be in charge but I never spoke to him or asked anyone for any help in speeding up the interminable registration process.

What does it all mean? Why am I dreaming about Sunfish? Who is the mysterious man? Why is that woman in my dream? What does LIU mean? What is that collage all about? Why wouldn't those people let me sit down? What is broken on my boat? What is the significance of the wet registration form?

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Still Crazy After All These Years

Update 4 March 2011. Go to Why Don't You Write Me? to vote in the poll to decide the winner of this competition.

Thanks to everyone who participated in last month's group writing project Navigation. The response was astounding. I think we had 25 entries in all. And I was blown away by your creativity and inventiveness on what could have been a somewhat dry subject compared to some of our previous topics.

We had useful advice and scary tales of near disasters. We had navigation while cruising, racing, kayaking, swimming, driving, hiking... and then we had some entries that stretched the definition of navigation further than I had ever imagined. We had serious and silly, truth and fantasy, prose and poetry... the variety was amazing. After all the years we have been doing these group writing projects, I'm pleased to see that you, my readers, are all still as crazy as ever.

Here is the full list of entries....

John from PDX gave us a story of a navigational error that almost ended in disaster in The Graveyard of the Pacific and also asked How about this for navigation?

Jos also told us about one of his navigational screw-ups in A map, a compass and not much else.

Mojo was lost in the fog in Open Water.

Wavedancer managed to lose his way while racing his Laser in A failure to communicate.

And My2fish had difficulties in his parent's driveway in navigating past the goose.

Captain JP's Log posted five entries. Is this a record? There was a story about a Navigational mistake in an ocean race and and an unconventional take on navigation idea in Navigating the land of the dead. JP revisited his archive to remind us with Why lambs are navigational hazards and then ventured into surrealism in This is not a navigation post. And what would JP be without his alter ego Buff Staysail who gave us The Buff Guide to Navigation. Bravo Sir!

O Docker wrote A History of Navigation, In Verse and pointed us to some of his earlier posts on the topic while Navigating Treacherous Waters.

Bonnie is Paddling Blind and Buoy Crazy. What's new? She also reminded us of one of the gems from her archives  by revisiting "Paperless Charts".

Carol Anne decided on a unique direction on the navigation theme to tell us why fire engines are red and the difference between a begonia and a double begonia or, how to get from here to there ....

Baydog combined three completely different aspects of navigation in Driveways, menus and GPS and, in a cryptic mood, said Coxswain = Navigator. Hmmm!

Joel Taylor instructed us on How not to Navigate with GPS

Smilicus also had some excellent advice about not relying too much on gadgets in Aliens shot down our satellites.

Zen said I believe in Duct Tape. Huh?

Sam Chapin told us a true-life story of natural navigation in LASERS DON'T NAVIGATE.

And I was feeling lazy and could only rustle up Hello Lamp Post What Cha Knowing?

Thanks again to everyone who participated. Did I miss anybody?

And now I have to get back to the hard work of compiling a short list of posts eligible for the grand prize of Tristan Gooley's new book The Natural Navigator. It's a tough task with so many high quality entries to chose from.

Old Friends

Photo: Paula Mayer

The photo is from the 
Spring 1993 edition of The Laser Sailor (newsletter of the North American Laser Class) and was taken at the New Bedford YC Frostbite Regatta. Left to right: Ted Scott, John Mayer, Bob Saltmarsh, Peter Seidenberg, Mark Bear, John Bentley. 

The accompanying article is titled El Cheapo Dry Suit and is about how John Mayer (second from left) is wearing a $40 "dry suit" which is actually a US Air Force Anti Exposure Suit that he bought at a government surplus store. Rubberized nylon in camouflage colors. "Ugly, Ugly, Ugly, but warm and dry."

Aaah. Those were the days.

Old friends, winter companions, the old men 
Lost in their overcoats, waiting for the sun 

Tuesday, March 01, 2011


The game is over,

Yes, the February group writing project, Navigation, is now officially over. Since my last update yesterday we have had six more entries...

Zen said I believe in Duct Tape.

Captain JP said This is not a navigation post but we all know he's only kidding, (in a surrealist kind of way.)

Wavedancer reported A failure to communicate.

John from PDX asked How about this for navigation?

Bonnie is just Buoy Crazy.

And last to surface, just before midnight, was Mojo with Open Water.

Sincere thanks to everyone who participated, and especially to those of you who took the trouble to send in more than one entry. I appreciate all your efforts. It would be pretty pointless running these writing projects without your support.

I will post a full list of all the entries soon and then select a short list of the best entries so you can vote to decide who will win the grand prize of Tristan Gooley's excellent new book The Natural Navigator.